It looks like the iPhone, already a kind of digital swiss army knife, will someday have walkie-talkie capabilities and be able to serve as a kind of spontaneous hub where information can be sent automatically to everyone in the group. Patents dating as late as last November, but only unearthed this week, describe the new functions.
The first patent, much more than a simple copy of Nextel’s walkie-talkie, actually allows data such as a text or phone number to be converted to audio and sent over audio channels, thus avoiding bandwidth-limited data channels. At the other end this can be converted back to a text message or number to appear onscreen.
iGroups, the best new way to be glued permanently to your favorite handheld, can be generated by entering a special mode when in physical proximity to all of the intended members. After that you can all disperse and still share data automatically among all members of your iGroup.
The patent used a concert as an example. The perfect way to enjoy live music: having a group of five or six people talk and text at you continuously from various positions across the room.